You have to play against other players, a lot, in order to get comfortable with the situation.
If you stand half screen against a meterless Ibuki, you’re like "Omfg what will she do, what will I do? A million things could happen, how do I react, what can I do?"
If I stand half screen against Ibuki, I know that only 2 things can threaten me: A neckbreaker or a jump-in, so I advance slowly holding down/back in between advancing so she can’t neckbreaker me, and I get ready to buffer my dragon punch which beats out her jump-in options clean.
With experience you’re able to narrow the options your opponent has from all the different distances and meter statuses, which in turn allows you to focus on other things, like taking note of your opponents habits.
Most people who are new take too much time, trying to learn combos, hit-confirms and the like, when it is much more important to learn how to move properly and find out the range and applications of your and your opponents pokes, specials and ultras.
If you pick the right characters, you can beat up people who have a lot of points just by using normals.
Couple of days ago I wrecked a 12K BP Sakura player who had super damaging combos and setups where you didn’t know where to block off of jumping in.
Basically when you let him jump in he’d take all your life bar.
When I anti-aired every single one of his jump-ins he was completely lost and his ground game was a joke.
For me it’s less frustrating to learn how to play the basic game first, then work on my execution, than the other way around.
I just have more fun playing against people than playing against the controls.
I feel like when you’re in a situation where you’re proficient at the ground game and you realize that you lost a couple of clutch games against opponents that are about as good as you in playing the actual game, because you left a lot of damage on the table, is the point at which you should take a look at the moves you know how to land regularly, and learn how to combo out of them.
Just act as if you’re playing SF2 in 1992 when you only had your single buttons and specials, and didn’t know anything about combos.